Are Wireless Interfaces The Future For Machine Control? (2023)

Are Wireless Interfaces The Future For Machine Control? (1)Are Wireless Interfaces The Future For Machine Control? (2)

Paul Rowlett, product manager for process drives at Control Techniques, gives his view on possible ways the automation industry will adopt wireless keypads.

In November last year, I visited the SPS IPC drives trade show. The event is Europe’s largest showcase for industrial automation technology, and visiting the stands of various exhibitors can shed interesting light on future trends.

My trip to SPS made me wonder about the long term future of keypads on variable speed drives and other automation components. A physical keypad is limited because it has a set number of buttons that cannot change, and because you do not want it to cost too much.

There has been a trend over the last few years for drives to enable configuration and parameter adjustment via web pages or apps running on smart devices like tablets and phones. So, what if the keypad was not physical at all?

Are Wireless Interfaces The Future For Machine Control? (3)

The benefits of wireless interfaces

Technologically, there is no reason that a drive with an entirely wireless interface could not be created today. A wireless ‘keypad’ would simply be an app or website accessed via a smart device. This would allow for a rich and flexible interface, utilising the high resolution, full colour displays typically available on these devices. Such a display could be used to analyse all available data, and to produce engaging charts or other graphical representations to instantly see what was going on with a particular drive.

A wireless keypad would allow full customisation of the drive’s interface. Interfaces could be customised according to industry, so that there was one interface for customers operating pumps, another for customers in the port cranes industry, and so on. An operator in the water industry, for example, would find that the interface was set up to talk in a way he could instantly understand and the drive manufacturer would ensure this was translated into the parameters of the drive – making it fast and convenient for the customer to set up and operate the drive. One can even envisage developing bespoke interfaces for individual large customers.

Are Wireless Interfaces The Future For Machine Control? (4)

The limitations of wireless keypads

The hardware required on the drive to communicate with the software or app is easily integrated into components already in the drive, such as printed circuit boards. Meanwhile, the operator is likely to use an existing smart device. For these reasons, it might seem logical to assume that doing away with keypads may result in a small cost saving.

There are several technologies that could be employed to provide the graphical user interface (GUI), both in terms of communications and also the user interface. Each technology path has considerable advantages and disadvantages.

To provide the graphical user interface (GUI) there are two key technologies that come to mind; mobile apps and web pages.

Let’s consider web pages first. The key benefits here are that there is no need to install and manage software on a device other than to have a web browser, and there is no chance of incompatibility with drive firmware versions because the user interface is actually provided by the drive firmware.

As interest around Industrial Ethernet continues to grow, replacing traditional Fieldbus, Ethernet interfaces on-board drives are becoming more common and also more sophisticated. Many of these interfaces already provide web pages that allow the user to manage the drive configuration. These web interfaces are popular with customers and have the potential to replace traditional PC based software programs that are used to manage the drive configuration. The step to replace keypads using mobile devices is likely just a small step further along this path.

The language that is used to render web pages, HTML, is well defined, device agnostic and has already proved to be extremely robust in terms of forwards compatibility with web browsers. It is highly likely that pages created today will be supported on new computing platforms for many years. In contrast, in 10 or 20 years will we still be using PCs? If we are, will the drive supplier’s software still be compatible with the latest version of Windows?

The major downside of webpages is that they do add cost to the drive in terms of computing power and memory. This challenge is most acute with the lowest priced, smallest and most simple drives.

The alternative is to create mobile apps. This has the benefit that it moves the need for computing power and memory from the drive, onto the mobile device which generally has both in abundance. This also allows the developers to be far more creative because the environment in which the app is running is well defined, such as screen sizes and resolution. They also usually offer access to other information, features and functions of the device such as geo-location, vibration, cameras and sound. In addition, unlike web-based interfaces, new app updates can deliver new functionalities or fix problems that have been discovered in the field.

The key downside of the app approach is that separate apps needs to be created for each device platform that is supported, for example, iOS, Android and Microsoft. And, as with PC based software tools that we use today, firmware compatibility and long term support needs to be carefully managed.

Are Wireless Interfaces The Future For Machine Control? (5)

Cloud management

There is a major opportunity for the mobile device to provide a direct interface between the drive and cloud based services in line with IIoT and Industry 4.0. We already see potential in the ability to obtain new drive firmware from the cloud or save drive parameters to the cloud. This would allow the user to securely store the latest drive set-up and even track changes over time. It could also allow the drive manufacturer to better serve the customers; if a breakdown was to occur, the replacement drive could be provided with the latest parameter set stored, installed and ready to run. It also allows the manufacturer to better optimise its products, such as prioritising access to the parameters used most often.

In terms of communications, this can be considered independently of the GUI, and devices could support multiple communication methods. The three key options available for communications are Bluetooth, Near Field Communication (NFC) and Ethernet. Let’s consider Bluetooth first…

Most people are aware of, and familiar with, Bluetooth technologies. It’s supported widely by mobile devices, and could be employed to create the link with the drive. The Bluetooth interface would need to be provided through an option so that the user can pair with the option, rather than having to pair individually with each and every drive. Therefore the option would need to be added and removed while the drive is powered up so not to inconvenience the user.

Another option is Near Field Communication. This protocol provides a communication link to two devices when they are placed in close proximity, usually within 4cm. The best known use of this technology is the payment service, Apple Pay. It is becoming well supported with mobile devices. The advantage of this technology is that there would be no need to pair the devices, however, 4cm is a limitation and with many drives in close proximity, how could you be 100% sure you were communicating with the right drive?

Are Wireless Interfaces The Future For Machine Control? (6)A further option is WiFi. This may be a great option when many drives are connected together through an industrial Ethernet network, allowing the user to browse the network and manage multiple drives, however, careful management of cyber security needs to be taken into consideration.

The advantages of physical keypads

Despite their limitations, physical keypads have some strong benefits. In particular, keypads have the obvious advantage that you only need fingers to use them, so they can still be used if wireless connections go down.

Generally, I look to the consumer world for examples of cutting edge technologies leading the way, and the first devices I can think of that had completely soft interfaces were routers and modems: things that are already connected into your network. With most consumer devices, however, you still do not see exclusively soft interfaces. You do not see, for example, domestic ovens controlled only via app. People prefer to use more traditional interfaces.

Does that mean the keypad is here to stay? Or does the industrial world have a different dynamic that means people will accept 100% soft interfaces?

Are Wireless Interfaces The Future For Machine Control? (7)

Which way will things go?

A key driver of wireless keypads or the use of smart mobile devices could be safety, in the USA new legislation has been introduced that gives tighter control of personnel to access control panels. Here, a mobile device could be an ideal solution.

In general, factories are moving online and towards computerised interfaces. Drive keypads are certain to be part of that trend to some degree.

But I think the trend might be industry or application specific. I can envisage that drives in the food and beverage industry, for example, would benefit from wireless keypads because keypads have crevices which are bad for hygiene reasons. Removing the keypads would optimise them for wash down.

For many industries, the benefit has got to be the way you can customise the interface to the customer. One can imagine specially designed crane keypads, or pump keypads, or keypads for packaging machines.

Remote working is another core trend for the automation industry, and online interfaces are key for this. Remote working allows firms to reduce their labour force and access a much wider talent pool.

Yet I do not believe that wireless keypads will spell the end of keypads on drives, at least not for a very long time. Keypads are a good fallback. Redundancy is the reason. Even if they have a secure wireless interface, many customers will want to know that they can physically interact with the drive in the event that the online interface goes down. It will be like television controls. These days, even in the era of remote or smart phone controlled TVs, most still have buttons. Compared to the past they are smaller, more discrete, and located around the back of the set, but they are still there. I expect this to be the trend for drives: keypads will become smaller, less used, and lower cost, but in some form they will still be there.

Browse all insights blog posts


What are the four points of wireless interface? ›

The four types of wireless networks -- wireless LAN, wireless MAN, wireless PAN and wireless WAN -- differ when it comes to size, range and connectivity requirements.

Is the future in the hands of artificial intelligence? ›

The productivity of artificial intelligence may boost our workplaces, which will benefit people by enabling them to do more work. As the future of AI replaces tedious or dangerous tasks, the human workforce is liberated to focus on tasks for which they are more equipped, such as those requiring creativity and empathy.

What is the standard interface technology for wireless network? ›

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created the standard for Wi-Fi technology that all wireless routers follow, 802.11.

How will AI be used in the future? ›

One of the most obvious ways AI is shaping the future is through automation. With the help of machine learning, computers can now perform tasks that were once only possible for humans to complete. This includes tasks such as data entry, customer service, and even driving cars.

What does a wireless interface do? ›

A wireless network interface card, or wireless network interface controller (WNIC) connects to a wireless network, such as Bluetooth or WI-FI by using an antenna to communicate via radio waves. WNICs, therefore, communicate using layers 1 and 2 of the OSI networking referencing model.

What are the 3 main types of wireless networks? ›

Types of Wireless Network Connections

In addition to a LAN, there are a few other types of common wireless networks: personal-area network (PAN), metropolitan-area network (MAN), and wide-area network (WAN).

What is the future of machine learning? ›

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are among the hottest technologies in trend right now. The global ML market size is valued at $21.17 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach $209.91 billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 38.8% during the forecast period, according to Fortune Business Insights.

What is the future of AI and machine learning? ›

The future of AI is promising, with continuous advancements in machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision. AI will enhance various industries and transform the way we live and work.

What is the future of technology? ›

Advances in AI, machine learning, robotics, and other technologies have increased the pace of change tenfold. By 2025, we estimate that 50 billion devices will be connected to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), while 70 percent of manufacturers are expected to be using digital twins regularly (by 2022).

What is an example of a wireless interface card? ›

One such example of a wireless network NIC card is fiber data digital interface FDDI. In a case where data has to be transmitted over long distances, in such cases, a fiber data digital interface FDDI concept is used which translates data into digital pulses and communicates using optical fiber.

What is the name of my wireless interface? ›

Go to Control Panel (search for and select Control Panel using the Search icon in the taskbar). Select System. Click Device Manager. Expand Network adapters and look for the device name.

What is the most popular standard for wireless networking? ›

Development of the Wireless Network Standard

At present, the IEEE 802.11b/g standard is widely accepted throughout the industry and provides the necessary balance of range, network throughput, and support for device mobility to effectively serve most needs of the University community.

What is the future technology in 2050? ›

In 2050, artificial intelligence can outperform humans in a majority of professions. AI software can outmatch humans in white-collar jobs involving constructing company reports, market research, and most administrative functions. In some scenarios, they can also write screenplays, make music, write novels, and more.

What is the most advanced AI? ›

GPT-3 was released in 2020 and is the largest and most powerful AI model to date. It has 175 billion parameters, which is more than ten times larger than its predecessor, GPT-2.

Will AI replace us in the future? ›

AI won't entirely replace humans any time soon, industry experts and companies investing in the technology say. But jobs are transforming as AI becomes more accessible.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of wireless networks? ›

Pros and cons of wireless networking
  • Increased efficiency. Improved data communications lead to faster transfer of information within businesses and between partners and customers. ...
  • Access and availability. ...
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Cost savings. ...
  • New opportunities. ...
  • Security. ...
  • Installation problems. ...
  • Coverage.

What are the different modes of wireless interface? ›

Table of Contents
  • AP.
  • AP/vlan.
  • IBSS (Ad-Hoc)
  • MESH POINT (802.11s)
  • OCB.
  • P2P Client.
  • P2P-GO.
Mar 18, 2021

What is the purpose of a network interface controller? ›

The NIC allows computers to communicate over a computer network, either by using cables or wirelessly.

What are 5 examples of wireless network? ›

Examples of wireless networks include cell phone networks, wireless local area networks (WLANs), wireless sensor networks, satellite communication networks, and terrestrial microwave networks.

What is an advantage of wireless options over wired options? ›

The greatest advantage of wireless networking is the freedom of positioning. Endpoint devices are not attached to wires, so they can move freely. Because of this, wireless networks are often able to handle much larger numbers of connections than their wired counterparts.

What are the two most common types of wireless technology used today? ›

Types of Wireless Technology
  • Infrared wireless technological communication information in a device or systems through infrared radiation. ...
  • Wi-Fi is a wireless communication used by various electronic devices like smartphones,laptops, Ipads etc.In this particular setup, a router works as a communication hub wirelessly.

What is the future of machine learning in 2023? ›

Embedded machine learning is a growing trend in 2023 that opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Embedded ML or TinyML works by integrating AI algorithms directly into devices and systems, making use of edge computing for real-time processing on the device itself.

Will machine learning be replaced? ›

It's unlikely that deep learning will fully replace traditional ML. Depending on the company and its goals or desired outcomes, it will be up to them to decide whether ML or deep learning solutions will fit their needs.

Will machine learning be automated? ›

Machine learning can be automated when it involves the same activity again and again. However, the fundamental nature of machine learning deals with the opposite: variable conditions. In this regard, machine learning must be able to function independently and with different solutions to match different demands.

Does machine learning have a good future? ›

Machine Learning's Potential in the Future:

Furthermore, machine learning's future potential is poised to have a significant impact on the field of automation. If you want to help shape the future of the digital world, you can pursue a profitable career in Machine Learning.

Will machine learning be useful in the future? ›

Future of Machine Learning

Today, machine learning applications can nourish almost every common domain, so it is easier to imagine a lot with it. Advances in NPL and Computer Vision are accelerating its applications in facial recognition, language translation, autonomous cars, etc.

How is AI different from machine learning? ›

Put in context, artificial intelligence refers to the general ability of computers to emulate human thought and perform tasks in real-world environments, while machine learning refers to the technologies and algorithms that enable systems to identify patterns, make decisions, and improve themselves through experience ...

What are the three technologies in the future? ›

Human-Like AI Will Likely Become A Reality

By 2030, there will be exponential improvements of computer processing power, voice recognition, image recognition, deep learning and other software algorithms. Likewise, natural language processing technologies like GPT-3 are constantly being updated and surpassed.

What are the 5 technologies that will change the future? ›

AI and machine learning are the foundation on which many other technologies are built. For instance, without AI, we wouldn't have achieved the amazing advances in the Internet of Things, virtual reality, chatbots, facial recognition, robotics, automation, or self-driving cars, just to name a few.

Which technology has more future? ›

AI has become the biggest buzzword nowadays. Professionals with AI knowledge, experience, and skillset are highly in demand. Needless to say, careers in the field of AI are future-proof and are expected to survive well into the future.

What is an example of interface device? ›

The most common are the keyboards, mice, computer speakers, webcams and headsets. All devices providing an interface between the user and computer machines are considered HIDs.

What is a wireless card machine? ›

Wi-Fi card machines allow credit and debit card payments to be made to your business anywhere with a wireless connection, eliminating the need for Phone Line or Ethernet cables. Simply input the Wi-fi code into the credit card terminal and it will be fully operational for you.

What is the difference between wireless and wired network interface card? ›

Wireless NICs use wireless technologies to access a network. These wireless network cards have an antenna coming out of them which allows them to connect to a network. Wired NICs have an Ethernet network cable attached. This allows you to connect a computer to a network over a wired connection.

How do I identify a wireless device? ›

All devices on a network may be found using their IP address and MAC address. A device on the internet or a local network is identified by its specific IP address, which is unique. The MAC address is the physical address that identifies each device on a network.

How do I turn on my wireless interface? ›

Go to the Start Menu and select Control Panel. Click the Network and Internet category and then select Networking and Sharing Center. From the options on the left-hand side, select Change adapter settings. Right-click on the icon for Wireless Connection and click enable.

Which wireless standard is outdated? ›

The original 1997 standard (now known as 802.11 legacy) is now obsolete, while the a and b standards are nearing the end of their lifespan.

What is the most secure wireless protocol? ›

WEP, WPA, WPA2 and WPA3: Which is best? When choosing from among WEP, WPA, WPA2 and WPA3 wireless security protocols, experts agree WPA3 is best for Wi-Fi security. As the most up-to-date wireless encryption protocol, WPA3 is the most secure choice. Some wireless APs do not support WPA3, however.

What is the latest wireless network? ›

Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax, is the newest version of the 802.11 standard for wireless network transmissions.

What technology is booming in 2023? ›

New Technology Trends 2023 :

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Edge Computing. Quantum Computing. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

What technology will we have in 50 years? ›

According to Forbes, by 2050, IoT technology will be in 95% of electronics for new product designs. And by 2050 it is expected to have everything connected to the cloud and to the internet. According to Business Insider, Space tourism could be feasible in 2050, but likely only for the very wealthy.

What will be the technology after 20 years? ›

3D-printing could be used to construct more houses in 20 years. People could start using robots to do work around their house and provide companionship starting in 2030. We could live in a Matrix-like virtual world by 2045. People could also become Cyborgs by 2045.

What is the smartest AI today? ›

Top 5 World's Most Advanced AI Systems | 2023
  • GPT-3 (OpenAI) The first in our list is GPT-3 short for Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 is the third series of generative language models developed by OpenAI. ...
  • AlphaGo (Google DeepMind) ...
  • Watson (IBM) ...
  • Sophia (Hanson Robotics) ...
  • Tesla Autopilot (Tesla Inc)

What is the smartest AI ever? ›

Summit is the fastest supercomputer in the world and the first to reach exaop (exa operations per second) speed. Having achieved 1.88 exaops during a genomic analysis, Summit is expected to reach 3.3 exaops using mixed precision calculations.

Which country has the most advanced AI technology? ›

The United States is the clear leader in AI development, with major tech companies headquartered there leading the charge. The United States has indisputably become the primary hub for artificial intelligence development, with tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft at the forefront of AI-driven research.

What AI can't replace? ›

As such, jobs that require high emotional intelligence, such as therapists, social workers, and nurses, are not likely to be replaced by AI. Specialized Professionals: Jobs that require deep expertise in a particular field, such as doctors, lawyers, and scientists, are less likely to be fully replaced by AI.

Which jobs are in danger due to AI? ›

A report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) claims that AI and smart technologies will put job roles such as bank teller, cashier, and data entry clerk at risk. 10 job roles are likely to decline in next 5 years due to AI and other technologies.

What are 4 examples of wireless networks? ›

Examples of wireless networks include cell phone networks, wireless local area networks (WLANs), wireless sensor networks, satellite communication networks, and terrestrial microwave networks.

What is the most popular type of wireless network? ›

Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN) are the most widely-used form of the wireless network. WLANs are frequently found in homes, offices, coffee shops and airports to provide wireless Internet access for devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets. WLANs utilize wireless routers to connect devices to the internet.

What is interface in wireless communication? ›

The air interface, or access mode, is the communication link between the two stations in mobile or wireless communication. The air interface involves both the physical and data link layers (layer 1 and 2) of the OSI model for a connection.

What is an example of wireless communication interface? ›

There are different types of wireless communication devices like mobiles. Cordless telephones, Zigbee wireless technology, GPS, Wi-Fi, satellite television, and wireless computer parts.

How many types of network interfaces are there? ›

There are two types NIC they are, Ethernet NIC. Wireless Network NIC.

What are the 5 layers of network architecture? ›

Each host that is involved in a communication transaction runs a unique implementation of the protocol stack.
  • Physical Network Layer. The physical network layer specifies the characteristics of the hardware to be used for the network. ...
  • Data-Link Layer. ...
  • Internet Layer. ...
  • Transport Layer. ...
  • Application Layer.

What is the difference between a router and a modem? ›

A modem is a box that connects your home network to your internet service provider, or ISP. A router is a box that lets all of your wired and wireless devices use that internet connection at once and allows them to talk to one another directly.

What are the 6 internal components of a router? ›

Key Components of a Router

The main components of a router include the central processing unit (CPU), random access memory (RAM), read-only memory (ROM), network interface cards (NIC), and power supply.

What are the two components of a wireless network infrastructure? ›

The two main components in a wireless network are wireless access points and wireless clients. Wireless access points are base stations that attach to the wired network.

What are the 3 basic elements of a wireless communication system? ›

Basic Elements of a Wireless Communication System. A typical Wireless Communication System can be divided into three elements: the Transmitter, the Channel and the Receiver.

What are the security issues in wireless networks? ›

Wireless network security issues and threats

denial of service attacks - where the intruder floods the network with messages affecting the availability of the network resources. spoofing and session hijacking - where the attacker gains access to network data and resources by assuming the identity of a valid user.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Gregorio Kreiger

Last Updated: 09/12/2023

Views: 6284

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Gregorio Kreiger

Birthday: 1994-12-18

Address: 89212 Tracey Ramp, Sunside, MT 08453-0951

Phone: +9014805370218

Job: Customer Designer

Hobby: Mountain biking, Orienteering, Hiking, Sewing, Backpacking, Mushroom hunting, Backpacking

Introduction: My name is Gregorio Kreiger, I am a tender, brainy, enthusiastic, combative, agreeable, gentle, gentle person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.